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When recalling impressive talents taken far too early into their blossoming lives, one of the first names which come to mind is Brandon Lee - an actor and brilliant martial artist who passed away at the age of 28, on March 31, 1993. On the set of the hit 1994 comic book movie The Crow, about a rock star resurrected to avenge the murders of himself and his fiancée, he was mortally wounded by a dummy round tip unknowingly lodged in the barrel of an unauthorized pistol during the filming of his character’s death scene.
Despite starring in only six films, including Showdown in Little Tokyo with Dolph Lundgren, Brandon Lee left behind a legacy that fans still long to learn more about, which is what we have done to prepare for this article. In honor of this beloved actor, the following are six fascinating facts about his life and career, starting with his famous family.
Brandon Lee Was The Son Of Bruce Lee And Linda Lee Cadwell
Brandon Bruce Lee was born on February 1, 1965, in Oakland, California. His mother was Linda Lee Cadwell (née Emery), who is an American-born woman of English, Irish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Dutch descent, and his father was Bruce Lee - star of TV shows like The Green Hornet, on which he played the titular vigilante’s sidekick Kato, and iconic movies of the kung fu genre like Enter the Dragon, from 1973. The legendary martial artist and actor had a profound effect on his son, enough to say that he taught him everything he knew.
Brandon Lee Literally Started Martial Arts Training As Soon As He Could Walk
Brandon Lee would prove to be a prominent martial artist himself in real life and onscreen, such as in his first starring role - the 1986 Cantonese-language thriller Legacy of Rage - which he landed at 21 years old. He had mastered his skills at a very young age, essentially right out of the crib. He trained with his father (before his death when Brandon was just 8) in an art style Bruce Lee had developed himself, called Jeet Kune Do, as Brandon recalled to Jay Leno on The Tonight Show when promoting his film Rapid Fire in 1992. It was for this film, and for The Crow as well, that Lee would incorporate his father’s teachings into his fight scenes, serving as his own choreographer for both movies.
Brandon Lee Was Kicked Out Of High School When He Was 17
Before he was stirring up trouble for his onscreen enemies, Brandon Lee was branded a troublemaker in his teens. In another 1992 interview to promote Rapid Fire, Lee explained to famed interviewer Bobbie Wygant how he came to be expelled from his high school:
The little piece of paper they gave me when I was kicked out said that I had a bad attitude towards the educational process and was a poisonous influence upon the minds of my fellow students… I had the power as student body president to call these meetings of the entire student body and I think that, usually, these meetings were used for the student body president to have some rally about picking up trash on campus or something like that and I used to call these meetings, very frequently, and talked to the kids about what we were actually doing there in school. You know, stuff that seem petty now but, at the time, it seemed pretty important and I guess the higher ups didn’t like what I had to say… It was certainly nothing more than foolish pride that got me thrown out and I’m sure if I decided to back down, I probably could have had that [diploma]… It doesn’t seem to have made my life a particularly darker or unhappier place not having it.
In the interview, Brandon Lee goes on to describe how, in some years that followed, how his 17-year-old self would hitchhike across the country, learning more about himself and who he wanted to be along the way. When he finally got into the acting business, grand opportunities soon came in great supply.
Stan Lee Wanted Brandon Lee To Play Shang-Chi
Eric Draven in The Crow, arguably, Brandon Lee’s most iconic and defining role (and not just for the tragedy that surrounds it), but, in an alternate timeline, director Alex Proyas’ thrilling adaptation of James O’Barr’s graphic novel series would not have been his first comic book movie. According to CBR, before Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was set to be one of the biggest 2021 movies, Stan Lee apparently wanted to bring Marvel’s Chinese hero to the big screen with Lee in the role, for a project which never materialized. Coincidentally, the character of Shang-Chi was modeled after Bruce Lee, making this one of two roles based on his father which Lee was considered for.
Brandon Lee Was Approached To Portray His Father In A Bruce Lee Biopic
It is not unheard of these days for an actor to play their own real life parent onscreen, such as O’Shea Jackson Jr.’s performance as his dad, Ice Cube, in Straight Outta Compton from 2015. However, Brandon Lee had concerns about being asked to play his own father in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, as the following quote from an interview for Heat Vision (via The Hollywood Reporter) reveals:
I was a little scared by the whole thing, really. It’s strange to play your own father, you know? I couldn’t really wrap my mind around it. It’s funny, too, because to tell you the truth, if it had come along later in my career, I might have more seriously considered it. But as it is, it is so early in my career, it’s the kind of thing I just feel like it could be a career ender.
The lead role of Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story would go to Jason Scott Lee (no relation) and the slightly fictionalized Bruce Lee biopic was released in the spring of 1993. Unfortunately, Brandon Lee was unable to see it.
Brandon Lee Is Buried Next To His Father
Like his son, Bruce Lee also died on the set of a movie - namely Game of Death, released five years after his June 1973 passing - and under originally mysterious circumstances, too, although it was ultimately ruled a cerebral edema. The icon’s resting place, a global tourist attraction, is in Lake View Cemetery in Seattle, Washington. Brandon Lee would be buried right next to him just 20 years after the elder Lee's death.
Fans are still haunted by Brandon Lee’s untimely passing, going so far as branding a now defunct reboot of The Crow with Jason Momoa as dishonorable to the late actor. Some would argue the same for the film’s three official sequels and TV series adaptation, but at least we have the 1994 original to revisit and keep the celebrated actor’s legacy alive.